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American Breaks Sumo Barrier

May 27, 1987|United Press International

TOKYO — A 527-pound American, who broke into sumo wrestling only five years ago, shattered 1,300 years of tradition today as the first foreigner named to champion's rank in the sport of Japan's ancient emperors.

"I did it," exclaimed a jubilant Salevaa Atisanoe, a native of Hawaii, as tears welled in his eyes after the Japan Sumo Assn. announced he had been promoted to ozeki , or champion, sumo's second-highest rank. The 23-year-old Samoan became the first non-Japanese ever to rise to ozeki rank, one below yokozuna , or grand champion.

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